picture courtesy of iclipart.com

Ten years ago today life in America changed drastically.  Just as the New York skyline, lost the 2 towers from the World Trade Center, American’s lost the security and safety that had been built in this country since it’s formation in the 1776.

Over the past 10 years my life has changed quite a bit, but for now I will focus on 9/11 and the impact it has made.

Where was I when I heard?

I was in college, and had just walked out of my 8:30 class (that would make it around 9:15).  One of the headlights in my car was blown and I was calling home to find out if they had any suggestions about where I should go to fix it.  (Funny, how something so minor has stuck with me all these years, but it shows the impact of the day.)  I couldn’t get through to my father, so I tried calling my mom  to find out why.  While the phone was ringing, I remember staring out across the green and to the water and thinking what a beautiful day it was.  When my mom answered, she told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I was in complete shock, and I remember going to find anyone (who would be awake at that time) to talk to.  I ended up at our student center.  The was a large group crowded around the big screen TV, so I went to watch with them.  I think I stayed there until my next class.  It was philosophy.  I remember the professor making some comment about what was going on, but that he lacked any sympathy for the events going on.  What I remember clearly, was that one of the students had not heard before class, and was very disturbed to hear what the professor had said.  His mom worked in “the City.”  I remember watching him walk out of class to go try to contact her.  (She didn’t work in the World Trade Center, so she was okay.)

I then spent the rest the early part of the afternoon at the Honda dealership (waiting for them to fix my headlight) and watching the news on TV with a roomful of strangers who did not say a word to each other.  Looking back, one would have thought that an event like this might have brought us together, but instead it seemed like people drew more into themselves.

While there, I got a phone call from Fireman who heard about everything as he was on his way home from his overnight shift.  He was calling to tell me that he wanted to go down to, what we now call, Ground Zero to help.  He heard that one of the EMS companies he worked for was sending people to help.  I remember being scared for him, but knowing that this is what he would want to do.  As it turned out, I think he ended up providing support to one of the areas in Connecticut that had sent their employees to New York.

I worked in the after-school program at a local Jewish Day School.  When I got there, most of the students had already been picked up, but we were there for the couple of students who remained.  I distinctly remember the police car outside the building, as their were rumors that synagogues could also be in danger.  I wasn’t there long before I headed home to watch the news some more.

I also remember that there was not a single station (that I can remember) that was not showing some kind of coverage New York and the aftermath.

Two Days Later

I was back in the same class I had on the morning of the 11th, and we were talking about what had happened during and after our class 2 days before.  The professor for this class was my advisor for my major in Religious Studies, so we had a lot to talk about.  Some of which was how the Muslim community felt like they were under attack, as everyone blamed them for what a small group of extremists had done.  We talked about the need for more understanding, and how any form of extremism could be dangerous.  This is something I had kept with me every day since.

Two Weeks Later

Fireman was flying to Florida to spend Rosh Hashanah with his mother.  I remember watching the flight tracker follow his plane all the way down the coastline.  He was also kind enough to call and tell me that “No one had stabbed him with a plastic knife.”

Two Years Later

If you noticed, most all of what I wrote about was New York.  As I lived and went to school in Connecticut, New York made the bigger impact on me.  I had always known that the Pentagon was hit too, but the impact was far less on me,  than the Towers in New York.  It was two years later, when I moved to Maryland.  I was teaching at a small preschool, and learned that my assistant had lost her father on September 11th.  He had been working in the Pentagon when then the plane had hit.  I will never fully understand what her family went through on that day, but I was impressed by their strength as they continued on each day!

This taught me to look beyond what directly impacts me, and to remember that there are others out there who are also impacted by the events that occur in our lives.

5 Years Later

I was working at small school in Florida.  My principal’s birthday was on September 11th.  I remember her talking to the school about how she was choosing to continue to celebrate her birthday on that day.  She said to not celebrate would be letting the extremists win and she wasn’t going to do that.

Ten Years Later

As I watch the coverage on the news, the images and emotions are all coming back.  However, it is the flight that went down in Pennsylvania that stands out with me more today.  The bravery of those people on board amazes me.  To stand up for their country and try to protect others is admirable beyond words.  I do wonder how I would handle a similar situation.  I honestly don’t know what I would do.  I wish that there were more people (myself included) like them.

Watching the stories of the children who lost a parent in 9/11 is also heartbreaking.  Especially, when I watched a story about a child who was 3 on that day.  I can’t imagine trying to explain such a loss to my daughter (who is now 3) or trying to not just to get through, but to conquer the days that follow.

To all those families who lost a loved one on 9/11, your strength and will to carry on is what can remind the rest of us that life goes on.  It is our job to embrace it and celebrate it.

So what have I learned?

I have learned

  • that no matter how terrible or difficult the day or the loss, life goes on and should be celebrated as each day can bring amazing things
  • even in the darkest of situations and places there can still be humor
  • to judge each person based on who they are and not what their appearance or religion says about them
  • everyone has great power inside them and when it can embraced, we can do amazing things
What have you learned?